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Riverside Scientific, Inc. -- Interactive Software for Science Exploration

RSI Winds has been completely redone to keep it useful, fun, and easy to use.  Version 2 is a full-fledged, windowed program that runs on all versions of Windows and all Mac OSs from 10.3 forward (on both PowerPC- and Intel-based computers).

Use RSI Winds to help your students learn about these topics and more:

  • What the pressure gradient force is, and how it creates wind
  • How air moves around high and low pressure centers
  • How the Coriolis force depends on which hemisphere you are in, and how it influences the wind
  • What the friction force is, how it influences the wind, and how it depends on height
  • How the atmosphere's winds above the surface depend on both surface pressure patterns and the atmosphere's temperature

RSI Winds uses a variety of interactive, animated displays to help your students grasp difficult concepts about how the air moves.  Take a look at the sample screens below to see what we mean!

Sample Screens

The following are a portion of the screens and interactives we've built into RSI Winds.  To see them all, download an evaluation copy of the program and explore!

Click on the pictures for enlarged views of the screens and use your browser's Back button to return.  Note that the enlarged views are smaller than the screens would appear in reality, and that the image quality is therefore degraded.

Wind Screen This is the Wind Screen, Winds main screen.  Students can move highs and lows on the map and instantly see the effects on the pressure pattern and winds.  They can change the intensity of the pressure centers, together or individually, to how the winds change.  The can alter the Earth's spin and the hemisphere viewed to understand the role of the Coriolis force.  Friction can be changed to see how it changes both wind speed and direction.

You can print worksheets based on this screen, and students can save screen configurations to logbook files that can be recalled later.  You can use the logbook to prepare useful configurations for demonstrations.

Split Screen The New Split Screen enables students to directly compare how different factors affect the winds by using a side-by-side display.  For example, in the picture at left the maps are being used to see how the Coriolis effect differs by hemisphere.  The upper map shows the winds around a high and low; the lower map shows the pressure centers in the same relative position in the Southern Hemisphere.  Both maps always share the pattern of highs and lows laid out on the top map, but the maps can have their pressure, Earth spin/hemisphere and friction set independently.
Aloft Screen The Aloft Screen, new to Version 2,  is designed to help your students visualize what is meant by a pressure surface, and to see the factors that influence the winds aloft.  With this screen you can show the winds are influenced by the pressure pattern at the surface and the latitudinal variation of temperature. 

There are several Q topics -- supporting, interactive displays that focus on specific topics -- that help explain how the aloft winds work.  Tow are shown below.

Force Balance Screen The winds are driven by the pressure gradient force, modified by friction near the surface, and redirected by the Coriolis force.  The Balance of Forces interactive shows how these forces work together to create the winds as they are.  Students can see the balance of forces anywhere on the map.
Coriolis Explanation Screen The Coriolis Force interactive presents the classic turntable demonstration of how rotation affects apparent motion.  This is in 3D to help the concept make sense.
3D Pressure Surface Screen New to RSI Winds Version 2 is the subject of aloft winds.  There are a number of concepts associated with teaching this, and we've addressed them with several interactives.  The Pressure Surface (3D) interactive lets the student change the atmosphere's temperature and see what happens to the selected pressure surface.  It's in 3D to help the students see the way the surface is warped by temperature differences.

A modified version of this interactive is used to show why there are jet streams.  Students can change the magnitude of air mass differences to see how aloft winds can be made stronger in narrow latitude bands.

System Requirements

Your computer should have the following hardware and software:

  • Windows 95/98/ME/2000/XP/Vista or Mac 10.3+ running on either PowerPC or Intel processors.  Processor speed minimum is 500 MHz; 1 GHz or faster is recommended
  • Video capability of running 3D graphics.  This is typical on computers sold during the last 5+ years.  High-end, game-oriented video adapters are NOT required
  • 15 MBytes of free hard disk space
  • A display with a screen resolution of at least 800x600 pixels with 24-bit color depth; XGA (1024x768 resolution) with 24-bit color depth is recommended
  • A pointing device such as a mouse
  • Printing capability is required if you wish to print out logbook entries and worksheets
  • A CD-ROM drive (used only during installation).

Teacher's Guide

The Teacher's Guide for Winds is a PDF file than can be read with Adobe Reader.  The version available here omits the answers to the questions posed within it; the Teacher's Guide you receive with the software will contain the answers.

Clicking on the link below will open the Teacher's Guide for viewing (if your browser is so configured).  To save the file, right click on the link and choose the Save Target As... option.

Winds Teacher's Guide

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Copyright Riverside Scientific, Inc. info@riversci.com  Updated 28 November 2007